(June 7, 2019) –- For more than a year, GozNym, a gang of five Russian cyber criminals, stole login credentials and emptied bank accounts from unaware Americans. To detect and quickly respond to escalating cyber-attacks like these, researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) have developed the first framework to score the agility of cyber attackers and defenders. The cyber agility project was funded by the Army Research Office.
“Cyber agility isn’t just about patching a security hole, it’s about understanding what happens over time. Sometimes when you protect one vulnerability, you expose yourself to 10 others,” said computer science alumnus Jose Mireles ’17, who now works for the U.S. Department of Defense and co-developed this first known framework as part of his UTSA master’s thesis. “In car crashes, we understand how to test for safety using the rules of physics. It is much harder to quantify cybersecurity because scientists have yet to figure out what are the rules of cybersecurity. Having formal metrics and measurement to understand the attacks that occur will benefit a wide range of cyber professionals.”
To develop a quantifiable framework, Mireles collaborated with fellow UTSA student Eric Ficke, researchers at Virginia Tech, U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory (CCDC ARL). The project was conducted under the supervision of UTSA Professor Shouhuai Xu, who serves as the director of the UTSA Laboratory for Cybersecurity Dynamics.
Together, they used a honeypot—a computer system that lures real cyber-attacks—to attract and analyze malicious traffic according to time and effectiveness. As both the attackers and the defenders created new techniques, the researchers were able to better understand how a series of engagements transformed into an adaptive, responsive and agile pattern or what they called an evolution generation.
The framework proposed by the researchers will help government and industry organizations visualize how well they out-maneuver attacks. This groundbreaking work will be published in an upcoming issue of IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security, a top cybersecurity journal.
“The cyber agility framework is the first of its kind and allows cyber defenders to test out numerous and varied responses to an attack,” said Xu. “This is an outstanding piece of work as it will shape the investigation and practice of cyber agility for the many years to come.”
"The DoD and US Army recognize that the Cyber domain is as important a battlefront as Ground, Air and Sea," said Purush Iyer, Ph.D. division chief, network sciences at Army Research Office, an element of CCDC ARL. "Being able to predict what the adversaries will likely do provides opportunities to protect and to launch countermeasures."
Mireles added, “A picture or graph in this case is really worth more than 1,000 words. Using our framework, security professionals will recognize if they’re getting beaten or doing a good job against an attacker.”
UTSA is home to the nation’s top cybersecurity program, an interdisciplinary approach that spans three colleges: the College of Business, College of Engineering and College of Sciences. Research centers and outreach programs provide UTSA students and faculty with additional opportunities to explore the various facets of this high demand and ever-changing field.
The Department of Computer Science, housed in the UTSA College of Sciences, offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs that support more than 1,360 undergraduate students and 68 graduate students. Its major research units include the UTSA Institute for Cyber Security, which operates the FlexCloud and FlexFarm laboratories dedicated to both basic and applied cybersecurity research, and the UTSA Center for Infrastructure Assurance and Security (CIAS), which focuses on the cybersecurity maturity of cities and communities while conducting national cyber defense competitions for high school and college students.
San Antonio is home to one of the largest concentrations of cybersecurity experts and industry leaders outside Washington, D.C., which uniquely positions the city and UTSA to lead the nation in cybersecurity research and workforce development.
Learn more about the UTSA Department of Computer Science.
Learn more about cybersecurity at UTSA.
Celebrate UTSA’s 50th Anniversary and share social media posts about the 50th using the hashtag #UTSA50.
Community input is central to developing a well-conceived roadmap for the next 50 years of the ITC. To date, the visioning process has included opportunities for public input and ideation through two rounds of Community Conversations that sought input from a wide variety of ITC stakeholders.Virtual Event
Please join us Thursday, July 7th, 2022 for a discussion with Colonel (ret) Michael Davis, MD, FACS, FRCS (Hon), former Director of the U.S. Combat Casualty Care Research Program. Dr. Davis will discuss how to best identify strengths at UTSA that can be effectively leveraged for funding proposals to the Department of Defense.Business Building (BB `2.06.04,) Main Campus
Educators will develop strategies that can be implemented to stimulate, guide, and build capacity of diverse student populations.UTSA Downtown Campus
Participants will be introduced to applications included in Adobe Creative Cloud, a tool that is free for all UTSA faculty, staff, and students. Attendees will be able to complete short projects that will give them the opportunity to produce artifacts that they can use to improve digital literacy in their coursesVirtual Event
The Innovation Academy is an 8-hour online hybrid course designed to introduce faculty to a variety of educational ideas, best practices and resources for becoming more comfortable in teaching in different modalities. This academy will run July 18 – August 21. Upon completion of all activities, faculty will receive a one-time incentive of $1,000Virtual Event
Learn how to design surveys that are scientifically valid and are inclusive of diverse populations. Anchored in culturally and linguistically competent practices, this interactive workshop will explore and apply concepts related to the lifecycle of survey development from design to implementation.Virtual Event
The virtual conference will bring together information professionals and academics to discuss current research, ideas, insights, and best practices that advance STEM research and education.Virtual Event
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.
UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.